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Women who dare to dream

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As this year’s International Women’s Month wraps up, Sunday Vanguard features four women who have triumphed against odds, are standing tall, and have become a source of inspiration to others. The women were beautifully adorned by chic Ankara brand, Design For Love, DFL, founded by Wunmi Olufeko, a pacesetter and one of the first designers to take Ankara to a new level. They share life-changing experiences on how they are living through each day as conquerors.

By Nnamdi Ojiego

A woman is a curvaceous bundle of power—Adesuwa Onyenokwe

Women: Adesuwa Onyenokwe
Adesuwa Onyenokwe

Adesuwa Onyenokwe is a media guru in every sense of the word. A veteran journalist, Onyenokwe has practiced broadcast journalism for over 29 years. She is the publisher and editor-in-chief of top women’s magazine – Today’s Woman. An interviewer par excellence, Onyenokwe executive-produced and presented Seriously Speaking which aired on Channels TV between 2014 and 2018, and TW Conversations transmitted on MNET’s Africa Magic Showcase from 2017-2018. Onyenokwe is a fellow of the Bloomberg African Leadership Initiative.

What does being a woman mean to you?

A woman is a curvaceous bundle of power, wisdom and virtue who is wonderfully created by God to birth and complete life. Being a woman is being aware of all possibilities and ‘cashing’ in on it!

What are your thoughts on today’s woman in line with this year’s International Women’s Month’s theme ‘I am Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights’? Each for equal speaks on the need to attain equality between and within genders. Beijing ‘95 is the benchmark for loud advocacy for gender empowerment and equality. Thirty-five years after that landmark conference, the fact that we are still fighting for equality means that there is a comma. I think stronger strides would have been made if there was equity within the female gender. We need to replace the ‘PHD (Pull Her Down) syndrome’ with ‘PHU (Pull Her Up)’.

Today’s woman needs to see herself bond better with her fellow women because together we achieve more.

Have you personally experienced gender inequality?

No such experience readily comes to mind. Inequality is born out the value(s) placed on genders. I was raised to believe I can achieve my utmost best if I was smart. Since my mum had sons before I was born, there was no discrimination in the kitchen as all my brothers cooked and cleaned like me.

What is the worst setback you’ve faced in business and personal life? How did you deal with it?

In business, that would be losing key staff to the competition. I learned to have better ‘airtight’ contracts on engagement and to always prepare for the worst-case scenario with each hire.

In my personal life, it would be the low financial resources I experienced due to high investment in the business and taking personal loans to remain stable as I became more aggressive about earning on the business side.

If you could give your life a theme for 2020, what will it be and why?

Be More. This is fired by the need to keep moving and not settle by saying “I can’t”. It applies to all aspects of my life but more importantly, my finances. I want to earn more money to do ‘more good’; to not be ashamed to place and demand monetary value for all I have to offer!

What’s fashion to you?

I have always been aware of the need to look good. When I was only 16, I remember telling my friends that I would wear the same pair of jeans at 40; meaning I planned on maintaining my size. Till date, when I think of fashion, what I always look out for is comfort and style. A perfect fit is as important as a design and DFL sure ticks the boxes. I am a sucker for anything that’s ethnic yet stylish—and made to international standards.

How have you been able to sustain and reinvent your brand over the years such that you are still so very relevant today?

I suppose I have been able to stay relevant because I know that relevance is a moving scale based on particular needs and preferences. This awareness makes one a constant student in the school of life; ever ready to change no matter how painful it may be. Values never change but application does.

Who is a real woman to you?

Flexible, yet firm; trusting in her God-given abilities to be the best she can be.

Today’s woman should be anything she wishes to be— Anita Okoye

 

Anita Okoye is an entrepreneur, trained lawyer, social activist and a lifestyle influencer. She has an LLB in Law from the University of Abuja and a Master’s degree in Oil & Gas from the University of Dundee, Scotland. Before now, Okoye worked as a strategic business developer in the Oil & Gas sector for eight years. She currently works as Founder/CEO of Nigerian children’s wear brand ‘Tannkco’. She is also the author of ‘The ABCs of Africa’, a children literature.

Women: Anita Okoye
Anita Okoye

What does being a woman mean to you?

Being a woman to me means being human and staying strong amid struggles, yet being vulnerable and genuine to yourself and others.

What are your thoughts on today’s woman in line with this year’s International Women’s Month’s theme ‘I am Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights’?

I love the idea of Girl Power and the fact that every gender should be regarded as equal. Raising a daughter along with my two boys has made me more passionate about the movement. My children all have the same views and approach to life. We don’t have or even say “this is for boys” or “this is for girls”. My son Andre loves cooking and doing chores just like Nathan and Nadia. They do not think certain roles are meant for a particular gender. My daughter is also very expressive and speaks up at every given chance. She is one confident little powerhouse. I think today’s woman should be anyone she wishes to be.

Have you personally experienced gender inequality?

I really can’t say I have experienced gender inequality.

What is the worst setback you’ve faced in business and personal life? How did you deal with it?

Thankfully, I haven’t faced any setback in business yet; I really hope I do not experience such. With the outbreak of coronavirus, Tannkco has had to make decisions to fit the growing climate of uncertainty.

If you could give your life a theme for 2020, what will it be and why?

My theme is ‘Bloom’. Bloom, baby, Bloom! I’m all about positivity, growth and development in all areas of my life this year.

What’s fashion to you?

Comfort is key for me. I loved the DFL outfits because they made me feel comfortable, stylish and confident. I felt like a Boss Lady, a sultry goddess and a chic diva all in one day.

What inspired you to start your kids’ line ‘Tannkco’, and when did you know it was time to start your own business?

I love kids and curating affordable quality clothes to meet their needs is a major inspiration. I found that there was a huge gap in the children’s apparel industry. The basics were not readily available and if they were, they were overpriced.

Who is a real woman to you?

Every woman!

We must continue to fight for more— Adenike Oyetunde

Adenike Oyetunde is a lawyer though not in active practice. She delved into the world of media (radio), where she had the only legal show on air taking on topical issues and helping to solve numerous problems while giving free legal counsel. A qualified human resource personnel and an emotional Intelligence coach, Oyetunde is a cancer survivor and an advocate with great passion for supporting people who have been through the same experience as she. She is the author of self-titled memoir, Adénìké.

Women: Adenike Oyetunde
Adenike Oyetunde

What does being a woman mean to you?

Oh well, it means having unwanted, sometimes painful periods. It also means never understanding why society defines certain roles as ‘mine’ and standing tall against all odds, pushing and owning success, always. Lastly, it means paving the way and helping other women to ascend.

What are your thoughts on today’s woman in line with this year’s International Women’s Month’s theme ‘I am Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights’? Honestly, today’s woman has not had it this good in a very long time. For that, she must recognise the privilege and continue to fight for more. Also, her earning power has increased and so have her qualifications. She’s no longer silent. She’s assertive and vocal.

Have you personally experienced gender inequality?

I haven’t noticed it openly yet but I do suspect a few projects/jobs in which it may have existed. Sadly, I am unable to prove this assertion.

What is the worst setback you’ve faced in business and your personal life? How did you deal with it?

My limb loss. I didn’t see it then as a setback and I still don’t.

It changed my perspective on many things such as a better view to life and bigger lenses to assess my life through. It opened my eyes and mind to knowing that things may change but I steer the course of my life nonetheless.

If you could give your life a theme for 2020, what will it be and why?

Freedom. It’s my year to be free indeed. Free from everything that had held me back in times past; mentally and with my soul.

What’s fashion to you?

I am not a big fashion geek. I am not big on brands and all. I look out for comfort, colours and fit. Wonderfully, that was optimally achieved with wearing DFL.

You’ve become an inspiration to so many. What has been your own biggest inspiration?

Learning to take it one day at a time has been my greatest motivation; as well as  expressing gratitude in its highest form. I have the desire to be more, experience more food, more people and more places.

Who is a real woman to you?

Who she desires to be. Define your boundaries, set your rules, live by them.

I’m inspired by women who’re unafraid to be themselves—Wunmi Olufeko

Wunmi Olufeko is the Creative Director at Design For Love, DFL; one of Nigeria’s fastest growing fashion brands. Her desire to continue to challenge the status quo has expanded her vision to infuse African prints into daily work wear by scaling up DFL’s current business through collaborations and investor opportunities on the African continent. Olufeko is as vivacious as the colours on her prints and is happily married with three children.

Women: Wunmi Olufeko
Wunmi Olufeko

Let us into your startup story?

I started in 2014 in Abuja. Initially, I was selling Ankara fabrics and part of my selling strategy was showing my potential customers what they could make with my fabrics. So, I always had a sketch-pad with me. This eventually evolved into me creating Ankara work shirts for both men and women.

I was doing this alongside a  9-5 job, and after a year and half of juggling both, I quit my day job to learn pattern drafting at a tailoring school in Lagos. After my training, I just kept going one day at a time.

We have a keen eye for colours and patterns, and we can mix prints and patterns effortlessly.

Aside from the Women’s History Month inspiration, what else inspired the collection the women wore for this shoot?

A quote by American actor Emma Stone says: “I can’t think of any better representation of beauty than someone unafraid to be herself.”

Vanguard

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